Recently, we emailed questions to Shirley, the mother of Mary Jo, who has called Blossom Hill “home” for over 30 years. Shirley told us a little more about Mary Jo, their struggle to find the right fit for her, and how she eventually came to Blossom Hill, back when it known as Haven Hill and it was located in Brecksville.

Read the email exchange below.

Blossom Hill: Tell us a little bit about Mary Jo – her hobbies, her personality, what she’s like.

Shirley H.: Mary Jo is an easy daughter, sister, aunt and friend to love. She has a kind, sweet and loving personality.  She loves music and loves to dance. She is so happy to be at Blossom Hill and seems more settled than she has ever been. She is not as afraid of people as she once was. She is a very happy person these days and very relaxed. 

BH: How familiar were you with the developmentally disabled population? How did you and your family adapt to having a developmentally disabled child?

SH: We never had any experience with the developmentally disabled population prior to Mary Jo, who is one of eight children. I had 13 pregnancies and as a result was incredibly busy. Mary Jo’s challenges were not visible immediately but as she grew, they became more so. Our neighbors would find Mary Jo sitting outside on the street and would pick her up and bring her home. I went to see a social worker for help and her psychologist suggested a place for Mary Jo since I had so many other children. 

BH: What was the level of care she required?

SH: When she was little, a lot of care was needed. That’s why the social worker told us that she needed a place that could help more than my husband and I could. 

 BH: When did you first hear about Blossom Hill?

SH: She had been at other homes that were not good in that they had very little help with lots of residents.  She was in Columbus for many years and then we were happy when she moved closer to Cleveland. However, that was still not a good experience and at the advice of my social worker, we reached out to Haven Hill in Brecksville. He told me this would be the best and safest place for her. I was feeling so down, and he had to convince me that what he said was true.    

BH: What led you to choose Blossom Hill for Mary Jo?

SH: After meeting with the staff, I was sure this was going to be a safe place for Mary Jo. And, the way they treated our family made us feel so welcome and encouraged about her care. 

BH: What advice do you have for other families in similar situations who may be starting out on this journey?

SH: Just get all the information you can. There is a lot of information available now. Some of the best advice I received was from the social worker who told me that the way I accepted Mary Jo is the way my children would handle her. Mary Jo is a special and loving person who gives so much and finding a place like Blossom Hill has been an answer to our prayers. Mary Jo had been through so much. We couldn’t be happier she has found a beautiful home and she is the happiest we have ever seen her.

Our Story Matters is a Blossom Hill campaign aimed at bringing to life the stories of the people that make up our rich and vibrant organization.

Shirley and Mary Jo